Wishing you a happy and very belated new year! May 2023, bring you joy, happiness, health, creativity, and love.

The last year was a time of growth, new experiences, and reflection. As the second COVID year began, I felt low and stressed from experiencing a painful divorce and entering the empty nesting phase of my life.

“It’s time for renewal and change”, I thought to myself.

Travel, connection, improv, and adventure provided the keys to my transformation. This involved workshops in Philadelphia, Colorado, and at my “happy place” at Esalen in Big Sur, and travels to Denver, the canyon of Utah, Death Valley, Joshua Tree, France, Switzerland, and South Africa. Meditation and mindfulness, crying and screaming released pent-up emotions. While on an eight-day hike, with a heavy backpack, and high cliffs to climb (did you know I’m afraid of heights?) I explored difficult conversations that brought me to a deeper yes.

Through this journey, I realized what mattered most to me: family, friends, and deep connections, as well as challenging my conscious and unconscious mind. I aimed to become more kind, playful, and mindful, and to honor my physical body.

Certification in leadership through the Flow Genome Project challenged me to have more of an impact on my family, friends, community, and hopefully the world. I believe in the power of claiming your intentions and I am at a stage in my life where I’m considering ways to share my gifts with others in a broader way. The “How” is still to be defined.

Writing a book seemed like an impossible goal, however, I was up for a challenge. With the working title, Fire Up Innovation, my book focuses on helping teams working on innovation projects collaborate better and understand innovative thinking, framework, and tools. I’m giving back and providing a way for the readers to experience the work I usually do with groups in a practical, simple yet transformative way. My deep belief is that innovation must be experienced and that reading a book will not be enough. Therefore, I’m including practices, tips, and stories for those willing to make changes, experiment, and reflect.

Finally, I wanted this book to be fun and represent a concept my roommate and I joke about years ago “make creativity sexy” through visuals and graphics.

As I was busy writing, my apologies to my former newsletter subscribers for my silence. Consciously focusing on my book took all my writing and creative ability.

Here are my takeaways from this year of experimentation:

  • I can stay in the “not knowing” rather than thinking I need a plan for everything. I discovered both the freedom from that state of mind and how threatening this may be for myself and others. Many have asked “are you going to move back to France when all your children are away?” or “what are you doing for retirement?” or “what are you going to do with your house”? I keep smiling and saying “I don’t know” when being pushed. On one hand, I crave an answer and a plan for my life. While on the other, I feel more open to possibilities since I don’t have to worry whether they fit into my plans.
  • The power of getting out of your comfort zone and adopting a beginner’s mind. For eight days, I voluntarily joined a group of high achievers, backpacking with a 30-pound pack in the canyons of Utah. The first three days I felt so inadequate, feeling my age, my hurting ankle, and my incompetence in the most basic tasks (such as stuffing my sleeping bag back in the sack and being able to put up a tent). I believed I failed my tent mates and was not even finding time to stop and watch the gorgeous view. By day four, something shifted: first I increased my competence slightly, and started to trust my body and physical ability. I came to realize that to help others I had to take care of myself first, both physically and mentally. I learned to stay in the moment (rather than worry about what may happen in the future) and I started getting into a flow. By our last day, standing on the edge of the 1000 feet cliff my group and I had climbed, I trusted that I will be fine. I learned to take one step at a time, a great metaphor for what life is, and take in small thrives to get to the top of the mountain, rather than worry about the size or whether you can reach the top.
  • Be comfortable “being” rather than “doing”. This is a hard one as I always have a running to-do list in my mind and the feeling, I’m not productive enough (particularly challenging since I’m a business owner who sets and measures my own outcomes). I spent the end of the year at a retreat, where we thought about our intentions for 2023 with compassion for ourselves. One of the exercises was examining the roles you play in your life. After listing 15 roles (including the business owner, mother, board member, leader, and exerciser) I found a new appreciation for why I feel overwhelmed at times but also that I enjoy the diversity of roles and settings I have in my life. On the other hand, I realized that I need places and time with no role and with the only goal of being present and open. Having a (somewhat) regular meditating practice has begun my understanding of the difference between thoughts (they are always present but you don’t have to act on them or even care, they are just that, “thoughts”) and doing/reacting. This allows me to be less reactive and to remember we only live in the present.

“What’s for this year?” you may ask.

My compassionate goals are around co-creation and partnership with others, be it in my personal life or my business, being in deep connections with people and being supportive of my family and friends. That also includes taking care of myself (body/mind and spirit) so I continue to grow, learn and be able to show up more fully for others. And finally having fun and enjoying life!

As part of my leadership training, I’ve begun new activities and initiatives, starting with training my body differently. Remember when I mentioned my fear of heights? My new activity is rock climbing which challenges that fear but also is a great full-body training along with providing focus and concentration. And after going up the wall at the gym a few times, I realized how overcoming that fear was liberating and I could let go of a limited belief I had for years. As well, I’m volunteering in new ways (mentoring small business owners and working at a food bank), getting certified in Wilderness medicine, being a “boat captain” for the online class called Flow Performance 3.0 and meeting once a month with my amazing peer group in the certification program.

And on the business side, here is a preview of what’s to come:

  • Launching my first book, Fired Up Innovation
  • Relaunching my newsletter on LinkedIn and other platforms to share my thoughts on innovation, creativity and my journey and learnings in this field. I am planning to share only the meaningful things I learned and send my newsletter every month or two in the spirit of simplicity, meaning and acknowledgment of everybody’s limited time. If you are interested in receiving our future newsletter, click the subscribe button.

Here are a few resources I found on my journey:

I wish you the best on your journey and want to leave you with a couple of challenges:

  • Take on one new activity, volunteering, or new challenge this year to learn and grow and boost your creativity and make you more comfortable with change
  • How might we connect deeply and co-create together this year?

Please reach out to me with your thoughts and idea!

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*Image of Esalen Institute- Big Sur, California